Energy. Environment. Economy.

Under proposal, DEP would lose control of revenue from drilling penalties

Senator Scott Hutchinson

Senator Scott Hutchinson

A Republican state senator wants the legislature, rather than state environmental regulators, to control the money generated by oil and gas violations in Pennsylvania.

Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R- Venango) recently sent out a co-sponsorship memo seeking support for new legislation.

He sees it as a separation of powers issue.

“Traditional legislative powers have drifted toward the executive branch,” he says. “I’m just starting with oil and gas, but I feel like this about a lot of other programs. The fines should run through the general fund. Why shouldn’t the legislature decide how much is spent?”

He believes the state Department of Environmental Protection could be motivated to levy larger penalties, to support its own existence. However he says he has no proof that’s occurring.

“If you’re having a rough fiscal year, you bump the fines up. That’s possible,” he says. “People say the same thing about the State Police and speeding fines. It’s an incentive that seems to be there. I think we should remove that. Violators will feel they’re being looked at more objectively.”

Revenue from oil and gas penalties is currently used to support the functions of DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas Management. The fines represent a relatively small amount of money in relation to Pennsylvania’s roughly $30 billion annual budget.

This fiscal year Pennsylvania is expected to have a $600 million revenue shortfall, on top of an existing multi-billion dollar structural deficit.

Oil and gas fines and penalties collected by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection.


Oil and gas fines and penalties collected by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection.


  • Vera Scroggins

    Our State of Pa. continues to have serious financial issues and deficits and other issues throughout the State…Looks like the Oil and Gas Industry did not prove to be the Savior some hoped….The State sacrificed over 30 counties to be Fracked and Drilled and it proved to not save the State financially… what will be the next move of desperation….

  • Fracked

    Penalties have not served as a deterrent for negligence and repeat “mishaps” or “incidents”. Gas companies spill, slop and fail to ensure safe casing and cement. Why worry when the fines are just pennies on the millions? However, let Hutchison and the other gas devoted disciples control the fines and we eliminate the last watch dog. Quigley gone, Vitali gone, serious regs and protections impossible to move forward, DEP hanging by a thread and there you have it! The icing on the cake ,that Wolf wanted to eat, is his pathetic belief that gas will save the Commonwealth. As to Hutchinson’s worry that DEP will up the penalties to increase their revenue? He should have the worries that the folks who live in the shale fields have.

  • Julieann Wozniak

    Apparently, the Turnpike Commission isn’t providing our bloated, corrupt legislature with enough graft.

  • kenneth weir

    Just what these phony baloney politicians need. More money to run through their stubby little fingers.

  • Ransel

    Like we can trust our politicians in Harrisburg? They are already sleeping with the oil and gas industry.

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